Malnutrition in adults and steps to combat it

July 24, 2017

When the body feels weak and your diet doesn’t include nutrient-rich foods it could mean that you’re malnourished. Malnutrition is extremely common in older adults, most of their diets being completely chaotic. Seniors often forget to eat, some even don’t have an appetite and choose to go by the day with unhealthy snacks. They don’t feel thirsty, often forgetting to drink water, and in some circumstances they completely overlook health concerns.


Healthy nutrients found in vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and fruit are fundamental for the body to feel energized and operate properly during the day. Protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals matter a lot because these make sure that both your brain and your heart function in good parameters.


In the following lines we’ve detailed some steps on how to combat malnutrition. Read on to find out more why older adults are malnourished, and what can be done to restore their well-being.


Malnutrition in older adults


Good food helps the body grow and feel strong; at the same time, it regulates processes and strengthens the muscles, thus keeping the heart beating properly. Experts agree that nearly 4 million seniors in the US suffer from malnutrition. In time, it could lead to severe health concerns, including:


  • Depression
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Loss of memory
  • Muscle loss and body weakness
  • Vulnerable immune system
  • Anemia and insomnia
  • Dementia


Because malnutrition affects the bones and the muscles, it is a main cause of falls and fractures. Older adults are compelled to see their physicians more often, and in some cases they even end up in the emergency room. Surgery doesn’t help if mom or dad doesn’t start eating healthier. Have a conversation with them and tell them more about why they should eat healthier. Emphasize on the idea that good food strengthens the body, and helps it function a lot better throughout the day.


Main causes


Malnutrition happens when you don’t eat right, or when the food you eat is not nutrient-rich. The frequency of your daily meals and the type directly impacts your diet. One of the main contributors for malnutrition in older adults is chronic disease. Renal impairments, cardiac disease, and malignancy may lead to inflammation. In time, inflammation triggers severe muscle loss. Further causes can be:


  • Health problems – in older adults, health problems trigger loss of appetite, or difficulty to eat (chew and swallow). Some even have restricted diets, and are not allowed to consume essential foods that their body needs to stay strong and energized.
  • Medicine – there’s medicine that decreases appetite, or might even affect food smell and taste, thus preventing seniors from eating right.
  • Disability – physically impaired seniors, or those suffering from dementia are unable to go out and shop for their own groceries; this means they can’t cook on a daily basis, so they need constant help
  • Low income – some older adults can’t even afford to buy healthy food. In the US, it’s much cheaper to eat unhealthy; nonetheless, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible if you really try to get back on your feet
  • Depression – triggers loss of appetite and leads to mood swings and low self-esteem
  • Alcoholism – affects the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients from food, and decreases appetite


Oftentimes, it’s tough to spot malnutrition. Check your refrigerator to see what type of food mum or dad has. Make time to visit at least once a week, and observe their eating habits. Talk to their physician, and then watch their eating habits. Consult with their physician or talk to the pharmacist to see if the medication prescribed causes loss of appetite. In case you notice that your loved one doesn’t want to eat, it could mean that they’re depressed. Treatment should become your next priority.


Treatment available for malnutrition


The best treatment for aging parents is based on food that is nutritious and easy to prepare. Be there to guide them and cook together. Stick to healthier techniques – steaming and grilling the food is much better than frying the meat or the veggies in deep-fried oil. A tailored diet plan that includes dairy products might be advised, as well. Milk-based products, including cheese, and yoghurt helps strengthen the bones and restore mobility.


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